8 Critical Leadership Characteristics You Need To Possess

Leadership Characteristics

There is an old saying that great leaders are born, not made.

While this can be true of some leaders, it is not something that can be applied to everyone.

I’ve known people who were horrible leaders and after a while, became great leaders.

What made them a great leader?

They took the time to learn the important leadership characteristics that matter.

Then they began to work on themselves and their leadership style.

So even if you are not a great leader today, it doesn’t mean you cannot be great one day.

To help you become better at leading your team, here are 8 characteristics of a good leader you need to have.

8 Leadership Characteristics That Will Make You Great

#1. Honesty

The most important trait for how to be a great leader is honesty.

Honesty builds trust and if those you lead cannot trust you, then you won’t be an effective leader.

As much as the truth hurts sometimes, it is always better than being dishonest.

I’ve learned this throughout my life.

Many times I’ve found that telling the lie was more trouble than it was worth.

When you are honest, people will respect you and look up to you.

As a leader, you need to be honest so in good times and bad times, people know you will tell them the truth.

For example, imagine if the company you work for was going through a tough time. There is talk about potential layoffs.

If a person you lead asks you if their job is safe, what do you tell them?

The truth is you do not know whose job is safe and whose is not.

But if you tell them their job is safe and they end up getting laid off, think about how they would feel.

Now think about yourself as one of their co-workers. Would you trust the leader?

Of course not.

Now your team doesn’t trust a word you say.

Without trust, you have nothing.

And this doesn’t end with job safety. It extends to all areas of work including deadlines, raises, time off, etc.

You destroyed your credibility and your team won’t give you their best effort as a result.

#2. Delegation


You can’t lead and do 50 other things at the same time. You need to learn how to delegate duties to other people.

Doing so frees up your time to focus on more important issues that are pending and that will arise.

I know some people look at delegating in a negative light.

If this is you, you need to change your outlook to a more positive one.

When you delegate, you are showing the person you give the work to that you trust them and believe in them.

This will motivate them and have them push themselves to be better.

It also allows them to continue to learn and grow, which over time helps them to become better as well.

With that said, you can’t just delegate all your busy work. You have to have skin in the game as they say.

Nothing annoys a worker more than their manager acting like they are better than their team.

And nothing inspires a worker more than seeing their manager do the grunt work.

When I was at a previous job, I saw this first hand.

It was a small company and we dealt with the 2 owners all the time.

The one owner was a class act. He would roll up his sleeves and do the grunt work.

You knew if things got busy, he was going to be there late with you and even be there on the weekends.

The other owner, not so much. He would delegate 99% of things and leave early every single day.

The result was the owner that was part of the team was highly looked upon. The other owner was someone nobody liked.

When he was around, morale dropped, mistakes were made, and not a lot of work got done.

#3. Communication

To be an effective leader, you have to be able to communicate with everyone.

And when I say communicate, I am not just talking about verbalizing to others. Communication also involves listening as well as body language.

Great leaders make the person they are talking to feel special and important.

No matter what is going on around them, a great leader is focused on the conversation at hand.

Next time you are in a conversation with someone, try to focus only on them. Don’t look away for any reason.

It is much harder than you think, but this is one of the leadership characteristics that you need to master.

#4. Positivity


A great leader is positive.

They have the ability to help you push through things when times get tough. They never look at the negative side, they only focus on the positive.

This isn’t to say they are not aware of the negative possibilities. They are.

But they choose to focus their energy on looking at the positive.

This encourages people to be their best.

They know this is their greatest asset when trying to succeed.

#5. Decisive

All great leaders are decisive.

They know that they have to make decisions, without getting caught up in other issues.

They also take charge at a moment’s notice.

Doing this allows for the business or unit to continue to run smoothly.

It also allows everyone else to focus on their jobs and not worry about the bigger issues.

Make it a point to learn how to make decisions quickly and smartly.

#6. Empathy


To lead, you need to have empathy. You need to be able to relate to your employees, no matter what they are going through.

When you do this, you build a strong bond and this makes the employee want to succeed with you and for you.

If you can’t relate to others, then you are going to have a hard time leading them.

#7. Inspiration

Great leaders inspire people. They make others want to do things they otherwise would doubt they could do.

This is because a great leader believes in their people.

When I was working for a great leader a few years ago, he did this very thing.

I never turned down a project he handed to me.

I doubted myself when it was offered, but I knew he believed in me and knew I could handle it.

This inspired me to try and many times, I ended up completing the project successfully.

#8. Admit Failure


Admitting failure ties back in with being honest.

No one is perfect. We are all human and we all make mistakes.

When you admit you were wrong and failed, you show others that it is OK to fail as well.

And this is a good thing.

When we fail, we do so most times because we are pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone.

In other words, we are attempting to grow.

Any great leader will take note of this and acknowledge it.

When we grow, we become better people and we learn from our mistakes.

Becoming A Great Leader

As I mentioned, the good news is that even if you don’t have these qualities now, you can learn them.

That is the great thing about life.

In most cases, we can improve our situations by working through the issues we face.

These 8 leadership characteristics are proof of this.

But these aren’t the only characteristics of a good leader.

Below is a more detailed list of leadership qualities that make exceptional leaders.

Leadership Qualities To Possess

  • Passion
  • Trust
  • Vision
  • Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Decisiveness
  • Communication
  • Outlook
  • Perspective
  • Accountability
  • Motivation
  • Integrity
  • Purpose
  • Humility
  • Patience
  • Transparency

Be sure to take note of the qualities you have and which ones you need to work on.

Then create a plan to start becoming better at each one.

Take them one at a time and in time, you will become a better leader.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, great leaders take their teams to levels no one thought possible.

They encourage, motivate, and create an atmosphere of trust.

Instead of looking out for themselves, the people look out for the team.

By making sure you have the right leadership characteristics, you can take your team to the next level.

It’s just a matter of how great you want to be.

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